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Prose and Kohn

A look back on some Sarasota-area NFL stars

Former Booker High and University of South Florida running back Marlon Mack (25) was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017.
Former Booker High and University of South Florida running back Marlon Mack (25) was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in 2017.
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With the NFL Draft taking place in Detroit this week, hundreds of new players will enter the NFL's ranks, Booker High and Central Michigan University alum Jacques Bristol hoping to be among them. 

Only 25 players from Sarasota high schools (Booker, Riverview High and Sarasota High) have recorded stats in the NFL regular season. Before the next crop of players hear their names called, here are five of our area's 25 players to make it and how they fared on the sport's biggest stage. 

Marlon Mack (Booker High)

Mack, a running back, starred for the Tornadoes before heading to the University of South Florida in 2014. All Mack did there was set records: he became the Bulls' all-time leading rusher with 3,609 yards, the all-purpose yardage leader with 4,107 yards and the career touchdown leader with 33 touchdowns. He did all of that in just three years, after which he declared for the 2017 NFL Draft. 

Mack was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round of that draft, pick No. 143 overall. After a quiet rookie season, Mack made a name for himself in 2018, rushing for 908 yards and adding 108 receiving yards in 10 games. 2019 was just as strong, and Mack recorded his first 1,000-yard rushing season (1,091). 

It remains Mack's only 1,000-yard season. After 2019, Mack has been bombarded by injury woes. He tore his Achilles tendon in week one of the 2020 season and missed the rest of the year. He was limited to six games in 2021, then would bounce around the league, trying to find a long-term home. In 2023, Mack signed with the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 4. Five days later, the team reported that Mack had again torn his Achilles tendon and would miss the season. 

Mack is currently a free agent. 

Sam Shields (Booker High)

Shields was a star wide receiver (and sprinter) at Booker, and began his career at the University of Miami as a receiver, too. Before his senior season in 2009, Shields switched to defensive back, where he blossomed and was named the team's Most Improved Player. 

One strong year was not enough for an NFL team to draft Shields in 2010, but he did draw interested as an undrafted free agent, or a UDFA. Shields signed with the Green Bay Packers and impressed his coaches so much that the team named him its third cornerback at the start of the regular season. Shields would continue to improve and eventually become one of the team's starters. 

Unfortunately, Shields' career would be plagued by concussions. After suffering his fourth career concussion in 2016 and missing the rest of the season, Shields was released by the Packers. Shields did not play in 2017, but came back to play a final season with the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. 

Shields finished his career with 265 tackles and 19 interceptions. 

Tim Johnson (Sarasota High)

Johnson was a stout defensive lineman at Sarasota High before attending Penn State University from 1983 to 1986. Johnson's final season with the Nittany Lions became his best: Johnson had 33 tackles and five sacks. His play helped Penn State win the Fiesta Bowl 14-10 over the University of Miami. The team was named the consensus national champion by media outlets.

Tim Johnson gives his acceptance speech at the 2017 Sarasota High Hall of Fame ceremony.
File photo

In 1987, Johnson was taken in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would stay with the Steelers for three years before heading to the team then known as the Washington Redskins, now the Washington Commanders. Johnson had his best seasons with Washington, winning Super Bowl XXVI in 1991 and making the 1992 Pro Bowl. In 1996, Johnson played a final season with the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Johnson finished his career with 480 tackles, 31.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. He was inducted into the Sarasota High Hall of Fame in the inaugural Class of 2017. 

Richie James (Riverview High) 

James starred as an offensive weapon at Riverview and at Middle Tennessee State University, where he became the Blue Raiders' all-time leader in receiving yards (3,261) and receiving touchdowns (23). Like Mack, James set the records in just three seasons, then declared for the NFL Draft in 2018.

Riverview High alum Richie James starred as an offensive weapon at Middle Tennessee State University.
Courtesy image

James was selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the draft, pick No. 240 overall. He played for the 49ers for three seasons before signing with the New York Giants in 2022 and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2023, with whom he won Super Bowl LVIII in February. 

Throughout his career, James has not found much success as a receiver — with the exception of 2022, when he caught 57 passes for 569 yards and four touchdowns with the Giants. But he has made an impact as a kick returner. James has returned 151 kicks for 2,015 yards and a touchdown. 

After his one-year deal with the Chiefs expired, James is currently a free agent. 

David Baas (Riverview High) 

Baas was an offensive guard for the Rams, and a strong one. He set a Rams record with 70 pancake blocks as a junior — the kind of block where you put the defender flat on their back. He received All-USA honors from USA Today before heading to the University of Michigan in 2001. He started at left guard for the Wolverines before moving to center as a senior. That move proved to be a good one: Baas was awarded the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center. 

Baas was selected in the second round of the 2005 NFL Draft, No. 33 overall. He would stay with the 49ers through the 2010 season. He signed with the New York Giants in 2011 and helped the team win Super Bowl XLVI the following season, taking down the New England Patriots 21-17. 

Injuries to his neck and knees would cut Baas' playing career short. His final season was in 2013. He started 84 games and played in 122 games during his career. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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